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Browns GM John Dorsey decides ‘to go for it’ after all, agreeing to trade for Odell Beckham Jr.

By Nate Ulrich • Mar 13, 2019 at 11:45 AM

Two weeks ago, general manager John Dorsey opined the Browns weren’t ready for him to make a huge power play for a superstar player like Odell Beckham Jr.

“Let’s build a foundation here,” Dorsey said Feb. 28 at the NFL scouting combine. “Let’s build a team of substance. OK?

“Last time I saw, we were (7-8-1), and we were in third place in the AFC North. That doesn’t mean you can go for it.”

Well, as it turns out, Dorsey was actually ready to go for it.

The Browns reached an agreement Tuesday night on one of the biggest blockbuster trades in team history to acquire Beckham, a bona fide No. 1 receiver and three-time Pro Bowl selection who’s in the prime of his career.

The Browns will receive Beckham and send the following compensation to the Giants: their first-round pick (No. 17 overall) in April’s draft, one of their third-round selections (No. 95 overall, from New England) and strong safety Jabrill Peppers, a first-round choice (No. 25 overall) in 2017 who started all 29 games in which he appeared the past two seasons.

Now Dorsey has eight picks left at his disposal. The first one is in the second round (No. 49 overall).

Trades cannot be finalized until 4 p.m. today, when the NFL’s new year begins.

Once the deal is official, Beckham will reunite receiver Jarvis Landry and receivers coach Adam Henry. The three of them were together at Louisiana State University in the same roles.

Beckham will also give quarterback Baker Mayfield his most dangerous weapon yet. They have already developed a friendship. Beckham worked out with Mayfield, Landry and other Browns players last offseason. And Mayfield was photographed dining with Beckham and Denver Broncos edge rusher Von Miller this offseason.

“I’ve become close with Odell because he plays with, obviously, Sterling Shepard (who) I played with in college (at the University of Oklahoma), so he introduced us, and (I’ve) become close with him,” Mayfield said last month at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards. “And then Von’s obviously Von. He’s a legend. It’s good to get to know those guys outside of the football field and build relationships with them. No, I’m not directly recruiting, but would I complain if they were both here? No, absolutely not.”

Browns players and fans aren’t complaining at all. Actually, they’re flat-out celebrating.

“John Dorsey is officially a genius,” free safety Damarious Randall wrote on Twitter.

Beckham has started 56 of the 59 regular-season games in which he has appeared, racking up 390 catches for 5,476 yards and 44 touchdowns in the five seasons since the Giants drafted him 12th overall in 2014. He has appeared in one playoff game, catching four passes for 28 yards.

In August, the Giants signed him to a five-year, $90 million contract extension, which included $65 million guaranteed. Yet they were willing to ship him away after two injury-plagued seasons and a penchant for creating unwanted headlines, including those prompted by him publicly expressing frustration with quarterback Eli Manning.

Beckham, 26, described leaving the Giants as “bittersweet” in an interview with NFL Network.

“At this point, I have no idea what to think,” he told the network’s Kimberly Jones. “I’m trying to process it right now.”

Beckham, 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, won the Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award in 2014 with 91 catches for 1,305 yards and 12 touchdowns. Then he had his best statistical season in 2015, when he caught 96 passes for 1,450 yards and 13 TDs. He had a third consecutive Pro Bowl season in 2016 with 101 catches for 1,367 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But Beckham has missed 16 games the past two seasons.

A fractured ankle limited him to four games in 2017, the only season he finished without 1,000 receiving yards (25 catches for 302 yards and three touchdowns). He caught 77 passes for 1,052 yards and six touchdowns last season before sitting out the final four games with a bruised quadriceps.

Still, if Beckham can stay healthy, he could dramatically change the Browns because he has enough talent to help them become a legitimate contender.


Breshad Perriman backs out of agreement, strikes deal with Buccaneers

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens will need to scrap the plans he had for wide receiver Breshad Perriman.

Perriman agreed to a one-year contract extension worth $4 million with the Browns on Tuesday afternoon but developed a desire to back away from the deal after learning the team agreed to trade for New York Giants superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Tuesday night, a person familiar with the situation confirmed. The source said the two sides mutually agreed to not follow through with the Perriman deal.

Then ESPN reported Perriman agreed to sign a one-year, $4 million contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Another source confirmed the deal.

Perriman, 25, is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent at 4 p.m. Wednesday, when he'll be able to sign with the Bucs.

"Breshad's a good football player," Kitchens said Feb. 27 at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. "Breshad had more success with us than he has had with anybody else, so, of course, we've got plans for Breshad moving forward, and hopefully we get him back."

Plagued by injuries and dropped passes, Perriman flopped with the Baltimore Ravens after they drafted him in the first round (No. 26 overall) in 2015. They cut him Sept. 1, and Washington did the same Sept. 22 after a four-day trial.

The Browns signed him Oct. 13 because their receiving corps had been riddled with injuries, and he suddenly resurrected his career, catching 16 passes for 340 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games, two of which he started.

Perriman, 6-foot-2 and 211 pounds, gave Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield a big, fast, deep threat with whom he developed trust.


Left side duo

Entering this offseason, Perriman and left offensive tackle Greg Robinson were the only key impending unrestricted free agents the Browns hoped to retain.

They signed Robinson to a one-year, $7 million contract extension on Feb. 25. Like Perriman, Robinson didn't meet the expectations tied to his draft status and is now with his third NFL team. But Robinson, the second overall pick in 2014, played well as the starting left tackle in the final eight games of last season.

"It was fun playing with Greg last year," captain and left guard Joel Bitonio said Tuesday. "I think we developed a real good chemistry as the year went on, and now we're going to have all of OTAs and all of training camp to really continue to develop that. He's a big guy. He's strong. He's athletic.

"When he learns the playbook and when he learns the offense, he does a really good job of understanding what to do. And that's all you can really ask and hopefully we can continue to improve as a group and be even better for our team."


More activity

The Browns announced they re-signed defensive tackle Carl Davis, whom they claimed off waivers from the Ravens on Sept. 2. They also agreed to re-sign linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong, a league source confirmed. NFL Network reported Armstrong's deal is for one year and worth $2.25 million.

Both players had been scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency on Wednesday.

Davis, 27, appeared in five games last season and had one tackle. The Ravens picked Davis in the third round in 2015, the same year they took Perriman. Davis has appeared in 33 career games with 12 starts and has 31 tackles and a half sack.

Armstrong, 28, appeared in nine games with the Browns last season and had four tackles. He signed with the Browns on Oct. 25, two days after the Giants cut him.

There are a few remaining mysteries in free agency, notably the next teams of Earl Thomas and Ndamukong Suh. But for the most part, in the modern NFL, a lot of the presents get opened on Christmas Eve.

Former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell was among those who received an early gift. ESPN reported late Tuesday that Bell had reached an agreement with the New York Jets.

We also know the New England Patriots are losing defensive end Trey Flowers to Detroit and offensive tackle Trent Brown to Oakland; that New York Giants safety Landon Collins is heading to Washington; that Baltimore linebacker C.J. Mosley will wind up with the Jets; and that Houston safety Tyrann Mathieu is going to Kansas City — if only by the “Honey Badger” meme tweeted by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Cleveland’s deal for Beckham is a far steeper price than Oakland paid for former Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, giving up picks in the third and fifth rounds.

Some teams dive headlong into free agency, while others merely dabble. For the most coveted players, it typically translates into a huge payday.

“Free agency allows B-plus players to get A-plus contracts,” agent Leigh Steinberg said, noting the league’s superstars rarely reach free agency, either because their deals are extended by their current teams or those teams use the franchise-player designation to keep them.

In the early 1990s, at the inception of free agency, the process was leisurely. Players would schedule multiple visits with teams, meet for hours with coaches and general managers, luxuriate over their options. Time was on their side.

But that changed, Steinberg said, with the Jacksonville Jaguars in the late 1990s. Michael Huyghue, then a top executive with the team, would compile a short list of top players he wanted, offer them generous take-it-or-leave-it contracts, then quickly move on if that player didn’t sign on the spot. The onetime leisurely process became a mad scramble.

Now, it’s standard for teams to move quickly, decisively and aggressively, spending top dollar, especially with the salary cap climbing from $177.2 million per club in 2018 to $188.2 million this year.

“Here you have the combination of a big cap increase and teams that are organized, mobilized and ready to move with lightning-fast speed,” Steinberg said.

“It’s a game of musical chairs. Right now, you have multiple chairs to land on. But this spurt of up-front deals will end rapidly. Those players who do not sign in the signing frenzy of the first five days will find the deals drying up.”

As for Suh, the rumor mill has him heading in all sorts of possible directions — Minnesota, Seattle, Cleveland, the Chargers ...

According to Spotrac.com, Suh has $138.7 million in career earnings, second only to Eli Manning’s $235.3 million among active players. In other words, Suh can afford to wait.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times (TNS) contributed to this story.


©2019 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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